Sundays are for recovering from the previous day's excursions. Can peanut M&Ms alone rejuvenate a frail human body?
- The ever more wonderful Electron Dance turns its attention to the first open world, Mercenary: Escape from Targ. I did not know or had forgotten this game existed, which makes reading about it like stumbling into a parallel dimension.
- Alice sent me this piece of New Train Game Journalism, about a free Steam Workshop scenario for Train Simulator, and it is soothing and lovely.
- Before Human Revolution, before collapse of Ion Storm, the original creators of Deus Ex began work on Deus Ex 3. Joe Martin dug up notes of the original ideas - along with deleted scenes from other games - for a recent talk at Videobrains, the transcript of which is online here.
- This is an excellent, in-depth and accessible video analysis of a competitive Quake 3 match.
- You might have heard a lot about the original Elite this past week, due to it being the series' 30th anniversary. Over at PC Games N, Tom Mayo writes about why Elite matters, contextualizing the game's ambition and accomplishment all this time later.
- This look at an awful, budget, knock-off console bought at a flea market is fun. Especially for the bowling game with Dr. Breen in it. Yep.
- Hey, this John Walker fella is a good writer. I found an old interview by him for our own 'from the archive' piece this week, and Eurogamer did the same by pulling out his 2009 diary series Bastard of the Old Republic.
- Stick with Eurogamer to read Martin Robinson's tale of arcade hunting in Akiba. One of my favourite videogame experiences was walking into the loft of Super Potato in Tokyo and playing The Outfoxies, a game I'd never heard of, for the first time. It is amazing. Robinson captures the thrill of hunting for the obscure.
- Film director Steven Soderbergh has spoken frequently about watching Indiana Jones in black and white, as it's a valuable lesson in the framing of shots. He recently backed that up by posting the whole film in black and white with the original sound removed.
- A list of riots caused by classical music.
Which brings me, finally, to this: with Mercenary, developer Paul Woakes asked what happens if we took the “simulator” out of FSII, showered the world with stuff to see and gave the player a goal. It is an ancient precursor to the authored open worlds we have seen over the years in the AAA space, with GTA V (Rockstar North, 2013) and Skyrim (Bethesda Game Studios, 2011) being well-known recent examples. However, modern open worlds are heavily dependent on violence as the method of progress whereas Mercenary – like other avant-garde games of the era – does not consider shooting things to be all that important. Mercenary is a secret box game for the self-directed player.
The rain had calmed down considerably by now, there was just a very small drizzle. I was soon at a rough 40mph where I received a single yellow signal. My three early minutes would be out the window by now with this slow train in front of me! I passed the 30mph board and another pair of Class 158s and a pair of Class 101s. A Parcels train was also recessed on one of the slow roads out of Edge Hill southbound, ready for tomorrow’s mail across the country no doubt.
This is not an early version of Human Revolution, which was made by a different studio. This is the original team’s original plans for a third game in the series. Both would have been set before Deus Ex: Invisible War.
The first is about an augmented Black Ops soldier who goes AWOL upon discovering he’s been used for dodgy dealings. His handlers find him and threaten him with either court martial or his wife’s execution if he doesn’t do one final job.
I remember discovering a Python (all of Elite’s ships were named after species of snake), a huge, sleek trading vessel – lumbering through space, ignoring me. I flew as close as I dared, matched speed, and just… watched it fly. Why was I so fascinated? Because it didn’t care about me. Every other game I played had a world created specifically for me. Everything in it wanted to kill me, sell things to me, or be rescued by me. I was used to being the absolute centre of these fictional worlds – but not here.
Of course, RPGs are always going to have you do things most would consider wrong. Finding a dead body on the ground, who thinks twice before rifling through their pockets to see if they had anything useful? Or an open cupboard in a public area, that no one complains when you open it? That's free stuff, right? But here the opportunities for wrongdoing made these acts feel perfectly mundane.
The number of games on display is staggering, the sensory smack of seeing so many of them lined up and switched on in unison overwhelming. Both wind up through floor after floor of cabinets: shooters sit on one, fighting games on another and mixed in are all sorts of esoterica. Taito has a stake in HEY, which makes for some neat curation: at the centre of the shooter floor G Darius, Darius EX and Metal Black all sit together, while on the fringes there's the three-monitor original sitting alongside the more recent widescreen presentation of Dariusburst.
Music this week is Pyramid, because I like to be dancing at my desk as I write. I started with Wolf.